How I Raised My MCAT Score By 10 Points in 2 Months — The Spinach Method

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
NOW WITH PS!
The Spinach Method
-or-
How I Added 10 Points To My MCAT Score In 2 Months​

By: Spinach Dip
Posted on Student Doctor Network



1
= THE OVERVIEW=​



Let’s get the most obvious question out of the way first:
30 (9,9,12) on 20 Nov 2012, using a paper copy of AAMC #1
40 (14,11,15) on 26 Jan 2013, on the actual test. :soexcited:



Greetings future MCAT takers and re-takers! This is my guide on how to utterly destroy this monster of a standardized exam!

Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way, first:
—This article is copyright by ME, Spinach Dip, posted here on the Student Doctor Network for the benefit of all. You may NOT, in any circumstance, claim that you authored it in part or in whole, NOR may you post it in part or in whole on any other website whatsoever. PLEASE do not print it off to share with your friends, pre-med club, or anyone else. I would APPRECIATE it if you gave out direct links to this article so others could read it, in its entirety, for themselves.
—You are free to refer to the “Spinach Method” on your own website/blog/facebook/twitter/etc if you wish, but you may NOT post excerpts, and you SHOULD provide a direct link to this article.
—I do not guarantee that you will see the same score increase that I saw. There are simply too many variables in play at any one time to guarantee anything. :(
—I will always write scores as “Total (PS,VR,BS)” or “(PS,VR,BS) Total”. In other words, the section scores will be represented in the order they actually appear on the exam, not in some score report which mixes things around for no discernable reason
—I am willing to engage in kind-hearted debate about some of the details I list below. But if you come here just to insult me, I will ignore you and report your post for being offensive. Keep it civil.
—If you have success with this method, please post below and tell others you used the Spinach Method to study!



*Deep breath* Let’s get into it.



This test is a beast. A salivating, voracious monster. A soulless horror from the deepest pit of hell. A massive, brutish minotaur hidden in a labyrinth by the AAMC with the sole purpose of slaying any and all who come before it unprepared. The labyrinth is also known as “undergrad”, full of twists, turns, and dead ends—which anyone might eventually find their way through given enough time. The minotaur is the test itself, and all must engage it in a one-on-one battle-to-the-death. Some are slain by the minotaur. many come out bleeding and bruised, yet alive. Others are victorious but come away with a slight limp or a black eye. And a select few slay the minotaur effortlessly and come out with nary a scratch. After the battle, it is up to the Council of Elders (adcoms) to determine if you are worthy of one of their illustrious apprenticeships (acceptance to med school).

My own path has been long and winding. I took several wrong turns in the labyrinth. Changed my major… let’s see… three times. Came out with a below-average GPA that took a couple extra years to complete. I haven’t met with the Council of Elders yet, but hope to hear their decision within a year. But, as for the minotaur, it wasn’t even close! I kicked its ass, spit in its eye, spray-painted my name on the wall, stole its candy, and on my way out I yelled: “SUCKS TO BE YOU!!”

Yeah!

That’s what I said! :smuggrin:

And now that we’re all pumped up, let’s get to the meat of this post—the method. I have seen SN2ed’s method, and while it definitely works for some people, I found it much too restrictive for my own study style.

What follows are 20 basic points of this method. As I was studying for the MCAT, I kept a list of what I found helpful and unhelpful, notes to myself about how to study most efficiently. I have embellished these points into what you see below. Some are specific and somewhat unknown. Some are broad ideas you should be doing all the time. Others are general knowledge which I am repeating here for the purpose of reinforcement. But all are important to the Spinach Method of studying for the MCAT.



=1. The Overall Idea=

The backbone of this entire method is based on repeating 5 different activities over and over to assess and overcome your own weaknesses and lack of knowledge.

The first is testing. This is the most obvious. You want to take 3 full-length tests every week. Two should be from secondary sources (Kaplan, TPR, TBR, EK, GS, Arco, etc), while one should be primary (AAMC is the only primary souce of material). In my schedule, I took secondary tests on Monday and Wednesday, then a primary (AAMC) test each Friday. Every time you take a test, you should do a careful post-game analysis. Make this analysis twice as thorough for AAMC tests.

The second is quizzing. This is what you do on your other days (in my case, Tuesday and Thursday, with a little less on Saturday). This is the time where you get out a book such as EK1001 or TPR Hyperlearning and do practice questions and passages on whichever subject you did poorly on last time you took a test. You could also simulate a test if you wish, doing 52 PS questions, 7 VR passages, and 52 BS questions.

After every single test or quiz, it is imperative that you study the questions you got wrong and WHY you got them wrong. The simple mistakes (such as forgetting the formula to calculate Joules) go on flashcards. Your flashcards should have a single word or phrase on the front; on the other side, all the information you need to know about the term. For example:
Front: Newtons
Back: Mass*Acceleration. Measure of force. Newtons = kg*meters/seconds^2

You will also have a notebook for more complicated questions, or a passage which you did poorly at. For example, let’s say you get to a passage on the sympathetic nervous system and only get 3/6 correct. To prevent this from happening again, you will write a passage on the sympathetic nervous system in your notebook, containing as many questions as you feel you need. Alternately, if you mess up a complicated question, put it in your notebook with an in-depth answer explaining why the correct answer is actually the correct answer. (Don’t do this for VR—it is a whole separate section that requires special tactics to tackle.) Organize your notebook so the questions start on page one and answers start at the half-way point, so you can flip between them easily.

While doing your flashcards and notebook, engage in content review. I have a rather low opinion of content review, and only used it when struggling with a difficult concept.



=2. Verbal is Different=

Verbal is the bane of everyone’s existence. It is the most conceptual of the sections, and there is no benefit to be gained from writing flashcards for VR or including it in your notebook. Rather, I did a full section (7 passages) almost every day and treated it like the actual exam. The only difference I made between materials was to review any primary (AAMC) material with utmost detail, going over every single question with a fine-toothed comb during the post-test analysis. On quiz materials or secondary tests, the more important thing is to practice your method of reading, timing, and approaching questions logically.

Often, the writers of secondary tests will have… let’s say “interesting”… methods of reasoning out the correct answer to a single question. I say: ignore their reasoning. Don’t even read it. But, on the other hand, realize that the MCAT authors are always right. Why? Because they wrote the test. That makes them infallible when it comes to VR. Get that into your head right now. The MCAT authors are always right.

Reasoning behind AAMC Verbal answers = always right
Reasoning behind Secondary Verbal answers = virtually meaningless.



=3. Use Resources That Are Readily Available.=

Chances are you have a University library. Use it. Who knows what study material you might find on the shelves? And as a follow up, use your public library and see what they have available. I got a couple Kaplan and TBR books from my local public library. Get a library card and check! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to classmates about some expensive textbook and when I ask if they checked the public libraries, they stare at me like I’m speaking Ukrainian.

For that matter, use Google and Wikipedia if you need help answering a specific question that does not appear to be in your content review books.



=4. Which Materials Are Best?=

It largely does not matter what materials you use. Obviously, the AAMC tests are the absolute best and you should use them in the most effective way possible. But, beyond that, the whole debate about TBR/TPR/EK/Kaplan/GS/Arco/Etc is largely moot. The value that can be obtained from each is dependent on how much effort YOU put into understanding the material and how well you do your post-game analysis.

In short, your own dedication to your success is the single most important factor to determining how much you can raise your score.

In the previous section, I said you should use libraries to find materials. That’s exactly what I did for the vast majority of the materials I used.

For the purpose of full disclosure:
—For tests, I used: AAMC (obviously), Kaplan, Arco, GS, and maybe TPR and TBR (Might have gotten an online test or two from these, but don’t remember).
—For quizzes, I used: Mostly just EK101 for Verbal, and the TPR Hyperlearning Science Workbook (~2000 questions in this book is equivalent to ~20 MCAT exams).
—For content review, I used: Kaplan, TPR, TBR, some GS videos, Arco, Wikipedia, Google, Youtube, and more.



=5. Get A Timer And Use It=

Preparing for the MCAT may be a marathon, but the actual test is not. The time you spend actually answering questions on the MCAT is, at most, 3 hours and 20 minutes. You also get two 10-minute breaks. Yet I have heard frequently of people doing 5… 6… 7… even 8 hour marathons of studying. In my mind, this is the single best way to wear yourself out and forget everything you went over by the following morning.

I used a timer any time I did something on paper. If it was a test, I gave myself 70 minutes for PS, 60 for VR, and 70 for BS. If a quiz day, I would do 75 minutes of PS or BS, and 60 for VR (I did a VR passage about ¾ of my quiz days, regardless. For BS and PS, the goal during quizzes was to answer as many questions as possible within the given time without getting reckless. For Verbal, it was more about the technique of reading the passages and reasoning through the 40 questions within 60 minutes.

Make sure to take a FULL 10 minute break between each section. When you’re done with 3 quiz sections, take a longer break (I usually grabbed lunch) and get refreshed. Then come back, correct, and review what you got wrong.

If you are really intense, you could try 4 hours of quizzes. If that works for you, fine. Just don’t get burned out.



=6. Do Something Every Day=

Don’t slack off.

If you have a dedicated “rest day” (mine was Sunday), you should at least do something slightly helpful toward the goal of studying for the MCAT. Review your flashcards or read through your notebook. You could even do some non-MCAT reading or play League of Legends. Anything to keep you sharp and active. Some people have said playing minigames on their iPhone keeps them sharp. Go with whatever works for you.

Don’t watch Amish Mafia, Ancient Aliens or Honey Boo Boo. If you do any of those, I think you deserve to lose points on your MCAT.



=7. What I Suggest When You Need a Break=

Some days you wake up and have absolutely no drive to answer questions about capacitors. Or you may feel sick or have a headache. In that case, it is okay to put aside your plans for the day and do something easier. Turn a 3-part quiz day into a 1-part quiz day if you must. Don’t slack off just because you’re feeling lazy (that’s the single worst thing you can do while preparing for this test).

But when you do need a break, you should do something productive. I really like reading as a relaxing pastime (and it might increase your VR score slightly). If you are looking for a reading list, I would suggest:
—Maus by Art Spiegelman. The biography of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jew in Poland during WWII. The only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.
—Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Set in Napoleonic Wars England, this book tells the tale of the first two English magicians in several centuries. Although very long (1000 pages in mass market paperback), it received universal acclaim from critics in numerous genres.


Of course, you could also try something more stimulating. Whether this means a jog around the block, a hot shower, or an intense game of Starcraft is up to you.

TV is the last option, IMO. I hardly ever watch TV, but I know that there are some good, informational shows around. I like Antiques Roadshow and Mysteries at the Museum because I feel like I learn something with every episode. The Military Chanel is good if you like to study WWII, but it can be extremely depressing. Or you can find something for yourself—just make sure it will leave you smarter than before you tuned in.



=8. Earplugs=

Get some.

Short story: When I took the GRE a couple years ago, some woman a few tables down started crying. I don’t know if it’s because she was too stressed or had just seen her score, but she was sobbing and trying to be quiet about it. She was also failing, and I’m pretty sure everyone in the testing center could hear her. The only reason I could hear her was because I had forgotten my earplugs that morning.

Short Story #2:When I took the MCAT a couple months ago, I was randomly assigned to seat #1. Do you know which one that is? In my test center, it’s the one closest to the door. People were walking behind me and opening and closing that squeaky door the whole time. Gladly, I remembered to bring my earplugs this day, so the noise was practically indistinguishable.

Now, I realize that people have different size ear canals, so I have put together a quick list based on my own experiences with trying to find the perfect noise-blocking earplug:
—Very Small Ears: Mack’s Dreamgirl. Don’t laugh. Anyway, these things are tiny. Only small females and children would find these useful.
—Small Ears: 3M 1120. They look weird, but are actually soft and very easy to place. “3M” is the maker and “1120” is the model number.
—Medium Ears: Max Lite. This is the kind I use almost every night. :sleep: They are slightly hard to place, but are very comfortable when in right and cut sound amazingly well. I can wear these for 12+ hours without discomfort.
—Large Ears: Laser Lite. The same as Max Lite, but with a larger diameter. I can wear these for a short time, but they begin to irritate my ears after a couple hours.
—Very Large Ears: EARsoft FX. These have the absolute highest noise reduction rating, but are for huge ears only. I can wear these for a few minutes before they start bothering me.



=9. Find Something Which Helps You Concentrate=

No. I don’t mean Ritalin. And if that was the first thing to enter your mind, you might want to take a course in medical ethics. :slap:

I mean something like coffee, candy, or energy drinks. Something high in sugar, caffeine, or both. Something completely legal and ethical.

Caffeine has never really worked for me. Sugar does. I know, it’s unhealthy and predisposes one to diabetes and all that, but it’s what helps me when a major test is involved.

I started with peanut butter M&Ms. But these got rather boring after a while, so I tried some other candies and eventually settled on skittles. Yes. I’m serious. They have a variety of flavors, so they don’t get repetitive in taste. When you’re on a 10-minute break during a practice test take a couple handfuls and throw them back while you take some deep breaths and prepare mentally for the next section.

Every person is different. Figure out what works for you.



=10. Mark Questions And Review Them=

It sounds obvious, but so many people don’t do it!

While you’re taking a test (either primary or secondary), mark a question if you’re not sure about your answer. Do this in every single test, whether primary or secondary. Pretend each one is the actual MCAT. If you have time left at the end of the section, go back and review your marked questions one-by-one. Think about why you marked this question in the first place. Is it because some calculation confused you? Or did you mark it just to double-check your work? Is it because the question uses some vocabulary you aren’t familiar with? Try to reason it out. If you can’t, move on to the next marked question.

Fair warning: Be extremely careful what you mark in VR. After completing the seventh passage, it’s generally a very bad idea to jump back to passage #2 and try to recall the details of it. Your goal should be to go through VR once and finish with ~60 seconds left.

Only mark a question in VR if:
—It’s simply-worded.
—You can narrow it down to 2 answer choices beforehand.
—And you think you will remember enough of the passage to return to it and still answer questions.

Furthermore, use every second you have in each section. NEVER finish a section if there are some answers you’re unsure about. If you have even a minute left, go back to those questions and think about them. Maybe something will pop into your head. One more correct answer can make the difference between a 10 and an 11.



=11. Use Your Scratch Paper=

The MCAT rules allow you to scribble notes on your scratch paper during the tutorial and examinee agreement. Each of these allows you 10 minutes, but takes about 1. That gives you a good 18 minutes or so to scribble on your scratch paper before the first section: PS.

Over my two months of study, I developed a pool of 22 equations that I would write on scratch paper before every test. These were simple equations which I had a tendency to forget when they came up in the middle of full-length exams. On the actual test, I ended up using five of these.

(No, I won’t tell you what my 22 equations were. Come up with your own list.)

Also, get used to writing the following series of numbers in the corner of your scratch paper: “52-44-36-28-20-12”. This is a mark of how much time you should have remaining at the end of each of the first 6 verbal passages. If I was within 1-2 minutes of these times, I considered that fine. If I was more than two minutes ahead, I would try to slow down a little, because in all likelihood I was rushing either my reading or my question answering. If I was more than two minutes behind, I would start reading faster to get back in line. Notice this allows you ~8 minutes to finish each passage. Also note, it allows four minutes of leeway in case you get stuck on a very hard passage or have to read something over again.



=12. Set Aside A Quiet Place=

Okay, this sounds pretty obvious, but you’d be amazed how many don’t do it!

For paper materials: find a nice, clean desk you can use and push it up against a wall so whenever you look up, there is nothing interesting to see. Keep the desk clear except for your timer and whatever books and papers you are using at the moment.

For computerized tests: clear off the area around your computer so you have nothing but a mouse, your scratch paper, and computer screen. A keyboard is allowable, but since the removal of the WS section, completely unnecessary.

For both: Use your earplugs. Get used to them. Have your candy/coffee/energy drink nearby and only reach for it during scheduled breaks. Turn off your phone and put it in another room. Don’t check email/Facebook/Twitter/etc until you are ready to take your lunch break.

Short Story: I bombed one of my AAMC tests (#9). The reason? I forgot to mute my phone and had a family member call near the end of PS. I had to answer—I couldn’t just let it ring and pretend I was not home. I was stuck on the phone for several minutes. While I still answered every single question, the distraction was enough to drop my score SIX points from my previous AAMC. :scared: Seeing such a drop made me want to give up, but I told myself it was a fluke and scored much better on the next test.



=13. If You Can Find The Old “R” Tests, Use Them First=

The “R” version of the MCAT is an older version, from the early 1990’s. I’m not exactly clear on the details surrounding it, or when it was replaced with the current exam, but I can tell you that it covers all the same topics as the current MCAT. The only significant difference is the “R” test is longer. The following mini-chart compares the distribution of questions:

.......Current…..“R”
PS…..52………..77
VR…..40……….65
BS…..52……….77
Tot…144……...219

Simple math (219/144) shows that the “R” versions of the MCAT are 1.5 times as long as the current version. So each “R” test is like doing one and a half MCATs. I’m not sure how to time these exactly, so I did them without timing them, going at a normal pace. They took 4+ hours each (after breaks), which seemed about right.

If you can find AAMC #1, it is an “R” test. I don’t know about #2, as I never found a copy. Also, some old prep books have the longer tests. If you can find any “R” tests, do them first. They will help you build up stamina and test you on 50% more content simultaneously.

Finally, some books with “R” tests either don’t have a scoring scale, or have one that is bizarrely out of proportion. I created a scale which seems more accurate to me. This scale gave me a 30 on AAMC #1, which was bracketed by 32s on AAMC #3 and #4 (and each section was plus or minus 1) so I’d call it a decent estimation.

………......PS/BS…..VR
15………..76-77……65
14………..73-75……63-64
13………..70-72……60-62
12………..67-69……57-59
11………..64-66……54-57
10………..59-63……49-53
9…………55-58……44-48
8…………50-54……39-43
7…………46-49……34-38
6…………40-45……29-33
5…………33-39……23-28
1-4……….less………less

The method for creating this chart took a while, but basically involved taking all the scaled-score data from e-mcat.com, averaging the charts there, turning that into a ‘percent correct’ chart, and then turning those percentages into a # out of 77 or 65 correct.

I present it here so you don’t have to go through all the work. I only hope you can find some “R” tests to use it on. :xf:



=14. Pick Your Studying Time Carefully=

And by “time”, I mean “time of year”.

There are three times of year you can reasonably study for the MCAT:
—Christmas break.
—Summer break.
—Any term you are taking no classes.

Now, it has been said on this board innumerable times, but I feel I must repeat it here… Study at a time when you have no other commitments. No job. No research. No classes. I know it is hard to put your entire life aside to prepare for a single test, but that is what is required to get all you can out of your study time.

I could only manage 2 months over Christmas break (starting the day I had my last final of fall term, and running two weeks into classes during winter term). I wish I could have done it the previous summer, but I had to take a condensed chemistry course to complete my BS degree.

I know some of you work. I know some of you have families. You might be able to do your MCAT studying at night. Or do 2-hour quizzes instead of 3.

You could always review flashcards when you have a few minutes alone. Or read through your workbook if you take public transit.

If you have significant family or work obligations which you absolutely cannot escape. I must say that the 2-month plan is probably not for you. Sorry. You should give yourself more time. I would suggest using the same strategy of quizzing, testing, and careful analysis… but over a longer period. 3 months, or 4 months maybe. Whatever it takes for you to be comfortable with the material.



=15. Finish All Your Prereqs=

I cannot stress this one hard enough.

Occasionally I will see posts here (or elsewhere) asking “do I have to take Ochem before the MCAT?” :bang:

I always want to answer with something snarky along the lines of “Only if you want to score higher than the 20th percentile in BS.”

But seriously. The MCAT tests on four subjects in science: Physics, GenChem, OChem, and Biology. You absolutely NEED to take the basic prereqs to do well on the MCAT.

I would even suggest more courses. Mammal Physiology, Intro to Biochem, and Human Genetics (aka Clinical Genetics) were the most beneficial to me. But then, I am a biology major, so people of other majors may have other opinions.

I’ve also heard that Calculus-Based Physics and Physical Chemistry (or Analytical Chemistry) can be extremely beneficial for the PS section (if you can survive them—I didn’t take any of them). As for Ochem, I led an Ochem workshop for a year, which was extremely helpful with refreshing all those finicky reactions.

In short, take your prereqs. Pay attention. And study hard in each of them—you never know what insignificant piece of knowledge will come up on the MCAT.




=16. Read The 30+ Thread Here On SDN=

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=503250

That’s the link to the thread. Read it; it contains words of advice from others who slew this minotaur of a test.

To elaborate, this was actually the very first thing I did in preparing for the MCAT. I read every single post—yes all 1200+!. Everything I found helpful or inspirational was scribbled in my workbook, on the very last page. Over time, I added and removed ideas. What remains are the points you are reading here.



=17. Get A Good Night Of Sleep=

Every single night.

Nothing is worse than trying to think about total internal reflection and the molecular causes of Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome on 4 hours of sleep. Heck, it’s hard enough with a full night of sleep behind you.

While engaged in the Spinach Method, you should try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up only when you feel rested and ready to start the day.

Furthermore, I believe that sleep deprivation is most detrimental to VR—the section which people generally have the hardest time with. Sleep deprivation wrecks the mind’s ability to focus and work on detail-oriented tasks. The most detail-oriented section of the MCAT is VR!

If you suffer from insomnia, don’t schedule yourself for a morning test!

If you aren’t convinced that a good night of sleep is important, read this article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_sleep_deprivation_on_cognitive_performance



=18. Don’t Be Afraid To Cancel If You’re Not Ready=

You should set a realistic “goal” score, based on your GPA, ECs, and which schools you hope to get into. Are you alright with DO? Or is Harvard the only school for you? All of these things will effect your goal score.

I can’t tell you what your goal should be, but the lower your GPA and ECs, the higher your goal should be. Look at the MSAR to figure out which schools admit applicants with stats near yours.

When you look at the schedule below, you will see that every Friday you will be doing an AAMC test. These are spaced out regularly so you can use them to assess how well you are advancing in your studies.

You will also notice #3 is the very first test you will take. Many advise against this, but I think it is a great idea because it allows you to assess where you stand before you truly start studying. Thus, it allows you to track your advances more carefully. Also, AAMC #11 is the very last test you will take, completing your preparation and giving the best possible prediction of what your actual MCAT score will be.

If you get within a few weeks of test day and are still nowhere near your goal, you must realize that massive gains on test day are exceedingly rare. Most people are within 1 on each individual section (plus or minus). Getting +2 on a section over your last practice test is a fluke.

So if you get near test day (say, when you take AAMC #9 according to the schedule below), and find your score is far below your goal, you have 4 options:
—Change your goal.
—Change your test date.
—Take the test anyway and pray.
—Take the test anyway and immediately void.

My suggestion is to delay your test date. It allows you the chance to work on your weaknesses and bring your score up towards your goal. Also, you would have saved AAMC #10 and #11 for later use.




=19. Know Everything=

This is in reference to PS and BS specifically.

There are some subjects which appear more frequently on the MCAT, and some which appear less frequently. For examples, let’s say… radioactivity appears on most tests in one way or another, while capacitors can appear, but less frequently. (Once you’ve done all the AAMC tests, you will get a feel for what is more frequent.)

That does not mean you need to know about radioactivity, but can ignore capacitors. No. You must know everything that might show up on the test. That’s how to do well in the sciences. You must know how to calculate the capacitance of parallel and series capacitors. You must know what variables affect the capacitance of a capacitor. You don’t need to know these things because it will be on the test, but because it might be on the test.

Realize that at the very top scores (11+), raising your score 1 point can mean as little as 1-2 questions. So the fact that you know how to find the overall capacitance of a series of capacitors might make that difference!
:prof:
If you can’t know everything, you need to do your absolute best to know as much as possible



=20. Don’t Get Burned Out=

I feel like I’m repeating myself here, but I think this is the second most important thing on this list (behind only #1, The Overall Idea).

:beat:

Seriously, this is a problem I think most people face during their MCAT preparation. The constant days of questions and questions and tests after tests wears on people. Regardless of what some gunners say, it is mentally exhausting.

That’s why my schedule allows for a Free Day on every Sunday. If you are feeling over-taxed, relax. Do nothing MCAT-related. This conflicts directly with #6 on my list, but if you feel absolutely drained, then just relax. I made some suggestions in #7, which gives a few things you can do during rest days.

But, if none of those work for you, do whatever.

I am not going to yell at you for not following the schedule. I’m providing the schedule to you. I’m not demanding you follow it to the word.

Short Story: Even I took a few unscheduled days off. That’s what happens when you do your test prep over Christmas break. I had family meetings to attend… and classes started two weeks before my test day. So, for a couple of those days, I accomplished nothing MCAT-related.

Regardless of the couple days I took off, I still raised my score 10 points in 2 months. I would suggest you stick closer to the schedule, but it’s all up to your dedication and how much you want to succeed.

So take the minotaur by the horns and kick its ass!

That’s all for now
 
Last edited:
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
The Spinach Method
-or-
How I Added 10 Points To My MCAT Score In 2 Months​

By: Spinach Dip
Posted on Student Doctor Network



2
=THE SCHEDULE=​



Remember:
—This article is copyright by ME, Spinach Dip, posted here on the Student Doctor Network for the benefit of all. You may NOT, in any circumstance, claim that you authored it in part or in whole, NOR may you post it in part or in whole on any other website whatsoever. PLEASE do not print it off to share with your friends, pre-med club, or anyone else. I would APPRECIATE it if you gave out direct links to this article so others could read it, in its entirety, for themselves.




So, let us briefly review seven important terms which will be used here:

Primary Test — Any test written by and released by the AAMC. There are 8 available and they are mandatory. You should do a general analysis of the AAMC tests the same day you take them, followed by question-by-question analysis the following day. Don’t do question-by-question analysis for secondary tests or quizzes.

Secondary Test — Any test written by Kaplan/TPR/TBR/EK/Arco/GS/etc. You need 15 to comply fully with the schedule below.

Quiz — Questions which come in a book not in the form of a test. These can come from question banks or dedicated books. Each quiz section takes ~70 minutes for BS or PS, during which you answer as many questions as possible without rushing; or 60 minutes exactly for 7 VR passages. I recommend doing quizzes in groups of 3, with 10 minute break between each.

Flashcard — A card you create based on knowledge you should retain, or basic mistakes you have made on Tests or Quizzes.

Notebook — For your more complicated questions or entire passages you want to review over and over. Has one section for questions and one for answers. Answers should be written in-depth, taking note of tricky verbiage in original question and why you missed it (or got it right)in the first place.

Content Review — Reviewing sources for specific material you missed in a Test or Quiz, or on any subject you feel you have not yet mastered. Content Review may come from MCAT prep books, old textbooks, or the internet.

Analysis — Going over a test or quiz in detail, which results in more flashcards or notebook entries. Analysis of AAMC tests should be far more exacting than any other source.



The schedule below is based on a 7-day week. It assumes you start on Monday (day 1), and you have a test on Saturday (day 62). Of course, this may not apply to you exactly. Feel free to modify it however you wish.




Things you should be doing every day you take a test or quiz: Analysis
Things you should be doing almost every day: Review of flashcards and notebook

WEEK 1
01__1M__Get Everything setup. Physics content review of unfamiliar concepts and flashcards as needed
02__1T__General Chem content review of unfamiliar concepts and flashcards as needed
03__1W__Organic Chem content review of unfamiliar concepts and flashcards as needed
04__1R__Biology content review of unfamiliar concepts and flashcards as needed
05__1F__AAMC #3
06__1S__Careful analysis and content review of AAMC #3
07__1U__Free Day. Do whatever you please. I recommend a Quiz, or review of your notebook and flashcards.

WEEK 2
08__2M__Secondary Test #1, followed by analysis
09__2T__Quiz, analysis
10__2W__Secondary Test #2
11__2R__Quiz
12__2F__AAMC #4
13__2S__Analysis of AAMC #4
14__2U__Free Day

WEEK 3
15__3M__ Secondary Test #2
16__3T__ Quiz
17__3W__ Secondary Test #3
18__3R__ Quiz
19__3F__ AAMC #5
20__3S__ Analysis of AAMC #5
21__3U__Free Day

WEEK 4
22__4M__ Secondary Test #4
23__4T__ Quiz
24__4W__ Secondary Test #5
25__4R__ Quiz
26__4F__ AAMC #7
27__4S__ Analysis of AAMC #7
28__4U__Free Day

WEEK 5
29__5M__ Secondary Test #6
30__5T__ Quiz
31__5W__ Secondary Test #7
32__5R__ Quiz
33__5F__ AAMC #8
34__5S__ Analysis of AAMC #8
35__5U__Free Day

WEEK 6
36__6M__ Secondary Test #8
37__6T__ Quiz
38__6W__ Secondary Test #9
39__6R__ Quiz
40__6F__ AAMC #9
41__6S__ Analysis of AAMC #9
42__6U__Free Day

WEEK 7
43__7M__ Secondary Test #10
44__7T__ Quiz
45__7W__ Secondary Test #11
46__7R__ Quiz
47__7F__ AAMC #10
48__7S__ Analysis of AAMC #10
49__7U__Free Day

WEEK 8
50__8M__ Secondary Test #12
51__8T__ Quiz
52__8W__ Secondary Test #13
53__8R__ Quiz
54__8F__ Secondary Test #14
55__8S__ Quiz
56__8U__Free Day

WEEK 9
57__9M__ Secondary Test #15
58__9T__ Quiz
59__9W__AAMC #11
60__9R__ Analysis of AAMC #11
61__9F__Free Day
62__9S__TEST DAY



This is the ideal schedule I wrote out at the beginning of my study. No, I didn’t follow it exactly. (I took a few days off for Christmas, didn’t do some of the later quizzes because of classes, and I started on a Thursday. How horrible of me.)

Yet here it is.



I can predict what a few of you are going to ask, so I have a couple prepared answers here:

What if I don’t have nine weeks? Aaaaaaahhhhh!

Relax. Remove a couple weeks from the middle (say, 5 and 6). Then take the AAMC tests you’re supposed to do those weeks, and take them in week 7 or 8 (instead of your secondary tests). Yes, you will have to move faster. But you can still do it!



What if I have more than nine weeks? Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!

Relax. Add a couple weeks into the middle, say, between weeks 5 and 6. You will have to find more secondary tests, but I’m sure you’ll find some way to survive.



Well, this post ended up much shorter than the previous. Hope you all find it helpful!
 
Last edited:
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
The Spinach Method
-or-
How I Added 10 Points To My MCAT Score In 2 Months​

By: Spinach Dip
Posted on Student Doctor Network



3
=PHYSICAL SCIENCES=​



Remember:
—This article is copyright by ME, Spinach Dip, posted here on the Student Doctor Network for the benefit of all. You may NOT, in any circumstance, claim that you authored it in part or in whole, NOR may you post it in part or in whole on any other website whatsoever. PLEASE do not print it off to share with your friends, pre-med club, or anyone else. I would APPRECIATE it if you gave out direct links to this article so others could read it, in its entirety, for themselves.




=PS is the most memory-based of the three MCAT subjects=

Read the above line again. K. Got it? :idea:

I believe that PS is the one section that can truly be mastered. For someone who has done their homework (aka, their studying), it should not be too difficult to consistently score well on the PS section.

This is the complete opposite of the VR section, which requires you to know nothing beforehand. In VR, the trick is to understand every detail of what the author is saying. In VR, a lot depends on personal interpretation and being able to assess what answer the test writer is looking for. (see my VR post for more thoughts.) In PS, you need to know the equations for finding newtons, and amperes; you need to know how light acts when it enters water or glass. In PS, there is only one right answer.



=KNOW THE MATERIAL=

It is my opinion that your score in PS, more than any other section, can be increased solely through memorizing a handful of equations, physical properties, and understanding how to apply them. Thus, to master PS, you must first understand all the topics which might appear.:prof:



Memorize Your Equations

First question you are going to ask: Which equations do I need to memorize?

The answer is: Any one on which, on an AAMC test, they do not provide you with in the passage or question text.

There are some equations that you do not need to memorize. But if in doubt about a certain equation, you should probably memorize it anyway. Finally, you can’t merely memorize the letters on each side of an “=” sign—you must know what each letter resembles and when the equation can be used and how it can be manipulated.

Now, let’s give you three equations which you will be expected to know from day1.

x = ( a t2 ) / 2
The displacement equation. I also call it the acceleration equation because it measures distance (x) based on acceleration (a) and time elapsed (t).

P = I V
The electric power equation. Power in watts (P) is equal to the current (I) times the voltage (V).

V = I R
Ohm’s Law. Voltage (V) is equal to the current (I) times the resistance (R).

If you do not understand any of the terms above, or how to use them to solve questions...well....you have some work to do.

For the chemistry questions, you must know things like reaction kinetics, and how to solve solubilities, electrochemistry, and nuclear decay. These can be just as complex, but may involve scientific notation, giving them one extra consideration.:scared:



Know How to Manipulate Equations

The MCAT is a hard test. A freaking hard test. There’s a reason why 55% of takers get an 8 or less on PS. (That’s about 35 / 52 correct.) Why do the majority get only 2/3rds of the questions right? Well, it’s my belief is that it’s because they understand the basics of the section, such as the three equations above (clearly—they got 2/3rds correct!) but they fail to understand the more intricate aspects. Things like equation manipulation and understanding the less-frequent topics. Or maybe they neglect topics like radioactivity all together.

To illustrate equation manipulation, I will put three MCAT-like questions below. Answers are in the quote boxes immediately after. PLEASE try to answer them before you look at the answers. Use scratch paper if you must. If you aren’t ready right now, come back to them later.

1. A boulder rolls down a hill under constant acceleration of 4m/s. The total distance traveled before the boulder hit the bottom and began to decelerate was 800m. How long did it take for the boulder to reach the bottom?

A. 5 seconds
B. 20 seconds
C. 50 seconds
D. 200 seconds

Algebra. Solve for t. Multiply each side by 2. Then divide each side by a. Finally, take the SQRT of each side. You should have gotten:
t = SQRT ( 2x / a )
Then we input the values given in the question:
t = SQRT ( 2*800 / 4 )
t = SQRT ( 1600 / 4 )
t = SQRT ( 400 )
This is where the real math ability comes in. What is the sqareroot of 400? This one is rather easy. It’s 20.
t = 20
Since the original question was in seconds, the answer is in seconds. It took 20 seconds for the boulder to reach the bottom. The answer is B.


2. An electrician measures a power of 6 Watts over a certain circuit over a period of 5 seconds. He then measures a current of 3 Amps over the following 5 seconds. What is the voltage of the circuit?

A. 0.4 Volts
B. 2.0 Volts
C. 10.0 Volts
D. 18.0 Volts

Very simple algebra. Use P = I V. Note that in this equation, time does not appear. Assuming the current is constant (and the question gives no indication otherwise), we can disregard the time completely. (If one has a deeper knowledge of the constants in question, one would be aware that Amps is Coulombs-pre-second. Watts, being based on Amps, is equal to Volts-times-Coulombs-per-second. Thus, whether the Watts or Amps was measured over a period of 5 seconds or 5 minutes has no bearing on the question.
So we solve for V:
V = P / I
And we insert the values from the question:
V = 6 / 3
V = 2
So the answer is 2 volts. B.


3. A circuit has a constant current of 6 Amps and a resistance of 4 Ohms. Find its Power.

A. 1.5 Watts
B. 24 Watts
C. 48 Watts
D. 144 Watts

Oh! A tough one!
There are 2 ways to solve this one. One is to remember the equation P = R*I2. However, this was not given above, so we will go through the second way. The only difficulty is that it will require using two equations.
The given equation for finding Power is P = I V. Now, we are given I, but not V…… But we have an equation to find it! Ohm’s Law:
V = I R
We then plug in the values given in the question:
V = 6 * 4
V = 24
So we write down this value and bring up the electric power equation:
P = I V
And now we have both I and V, allowing us to answer the question:
P = 6 * 24
P = 144
The answer is D.
So how’d you do?



Know How to Approximate

Frequently, the MCAT will give you two numbers which are not easily divisible/multipliable. If you do anything with the Pythagorean theorem, or a question like #1 above, where you have to find the value of a number squared, you may have to find the squareroot of a weird number. In this case, you have two choices. Either do it longhand, or approximate. Most equations can be solved with relatively simple math. You just need to know how to apply it.

I hope you know your multiplication tables. Every bit of math on the MCAT can be treated as addition, subtraction, or multiplication. (You can think of division as reverse-multiplication.) And square roots are a combination of division and multiplication.

Let’s try these three. No cheating!

1. 300 / 7 =

2. 5000 * 33 =

3. Squareroot 18 =

4. Squareroot 679 =

You can check your answers with a calculator. Within the quote below, I give my reasoning on how to figure these out without paper:

1. What multiple of 7 is closest to 30? The answer is 4, obviously. 7 * 4 = 28. So it follows that 7 * 40 = 280. This leaves a remainder of 20, and 7 * 3 =21. Add the values together, and we find that 7 * 43 = 301.

2. An easy one in two steps. 5000 * 3 = 15000. So it follows that 5000 * 30 = 150000, or 10 times more. Add these together and we get 5000 * 33 = 165000. Just keep track of how many zeros there are!

3. Squareroots are always a little tough. My strategy is to go up the scale of square numbers (1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, etc) until I isolate the squares directly above and below the number in question. In this case, 42 and 52. So we can say that the answer is between 4 and 5. If we want to give an exact value, we could look at where 18 places between 16 and 25. There are 8 integers between those two values (excluding 16 and 25 themselves) 18 is the second number. Using simple division should give us the correct value after the decimal point. 2 / 8 = 0.25. Add this to the smaller of the whole numbers in the range, and we get 4.25.

So, how close is that? Plug it into your calculator. 4.252 = 18.0625. Pretty darn close. And the exact square root of 18? It’s 4.2426. So we were off by 0.0074. I’d call that a pretty decent estimation.

This strategy works very well until you reach numbers up to about 100. After that, you need to add another step to keep the math from being too complicated.

4. Okay, big number. In fact, this should be about as bad as they come. If you face something uglier than this, follow the same steps and do your best.

What we need to do is use the commutative property of multiplication. What this means is that we divide the number in question by different square numbers until we find a number that we can easily take the square root of. Confused? Just follow the lines below.
SQRT ( 679 )
Divide by 4, which is the smallest square number and relatively easy to work with. (If you need to use your scratch paper at this point, feel free. And feel free to round to the nearest whole number if you need to keep things from getting too ugly.)
SQRT ( 4 * 170 )
Let’s take out another 4. Let's hold off on rounding for a moment.
SQRT ( 4 * 4 * 42.5 )
Okay, now this is workable. It may still look ugly, but by looking at the square numbers, we can see that 42.5 is between 62 and 72. In fact, doing a little calculation shows that 42.5 is almost exactly in the middle of 62 and 72. So we can estimate that SQRT ( 42.5 ) = 6.5. Now, we pull the square roots of the three numbers in the parenthesis.
SQRT ( 4 * 4 * 42.5 )
= ( 2 * 2 * 6.5 )
And we finish off by multiplying these three numbers together.
( 2 * 13 )
( 26 )
Now, how accurate is that? Pull out your calculator and you will find that 262 = 676. Only 3 (or less than 0.5%) away from the value of 679. I’ll call it a minor rounding error. (The actual sqareroot of 679 is 25.0576. Good luck getting that accurate by hand!)

All that work just for a single answer? You better believe it! One answer can bump your score by a point. It could be the difference between a 10 and an 11.
If you want to go further with square roots, you can use these values as well to allow you to divide by some (common) non-square numbers:
SQRT ( 2 ) = 1.4
SQRT ( 3 ) = 1.7
SQRT ( 10 ) = pi.

Did the squareroot of 10 blow your mind? Well, it’s almost right. The actual squareroot of 10 is 3.16. Pi is 3.14. It’s a darn good estimation.

Also, note that SQRT ( 2 * 2 ) = SQRT ( 4 ) = 2

There's a lot of short-cuts. Just be careful you do them all correctly.



Understand Scientific Notation and the Characteristics of Exponents

Okay, I’m tired of writing mini-quizzes. And I'm sure you're tired of reading them. Time for a break. :sleep:

I’m also not going to give you all the answers, just a few rules you need to know.

Now, exponents are most likely to be encountered on the chemistry sections, when solving for solubility products and equilibrium constants. But you can also find them any time the speed of light is part of the question, or sometimes when working with odd quantities like the force of the gravitational attraction between a planet and a star.

Please take note of the following:
( x5 ) ( x3 ) = x( 5+3 ) = x8

( x5 )3 = x( 5*3 ) = x15

( x5 ) / ( x3 ) = x( 5-3 ) = x2


And in scientific notation:
( x*103 ) ( y*105 ) = ( x*y*10( 3+5 )) = x*y*108

( x*103 ) / ( y*105 ) = ( ( x / y ) *10( 3-5 )) = ( x / y ) *10-2


As for addition and subtraction, I’ll leave those up to you.



Trial by Exhaustion

I do not favor this method, but it can be useful for some (complex) equations. Basically, you take the information provided in the passage, then input the value of answer A and see if it works out. Repeat for B. Then C. And finally D. Whichever one gives the best equation is correct.

I’d suggest against this method, unless you are otherwise completely stumped. It can take a long time. And you can still make mistakes.



=UNDERSTAND THE FORMAT OF THE PS SECTION=

Equal in importance to knowing all the material is knowing how that material is going to be asked on the test and how to study to gain the most from your time.



Know How Questions are Going to be Asked

You need to read every question carefully. The MCAT writers like to add in extraneous details, or ask questions in an awkward way. To answer most PS questions, you need to determine what you are being asked, what information you need to determine the answer, and where that information can be found in the passage (or from previous knowledge). If you ever get confused or lost, just take a deep breath and go through it step-by-step.

Each PS section has a couple questions which sound like they are asking for an opinion, but I guarantee you: the answers to these questions are based on facts! One such question might ask “What is the most likely reason the emitted light is violet?” It sounds like they are looking for an opinion, but the correct answer is based completely on facts concerning the actions of light, and material presented within the passage. Also, in these pseudo-opinion questions, you should be able to eliminate 2 answers right off the bat—either because they are blatantly wrong, or because they have nothing to do with the question being asked.



PS Requires a Shallow Knowledge of a Large Number of Topics

This is an important distinction to understand. You need to study and understand topics as varied as magnetic fields, refraction, buoyancy, reduction potentials, reaction orders, and radioactivity.

So what’s the good side? Well, you have to know about a lot of subjects, but you only need a basic knowledge of each topic. You are not being asked to give a 3-hour lecture on the dynamics of electrochemistry. You are being asked to answer 4-5 questions on the topic, the majority of which are rather easy if you have done enough practice problems and have some previous knowledge of the topic.

So, how many practice problems is enough? Well, I think that if you can do a primary (AAMC) passage and know how to solve all the questions, and get all of them right, you should be good to go. But if you still feel a little shaky on the topic, do some practice problems until you have an intuitive understanding of the topic and what questions you are likely to see.

I'm sorry, I can't give you a percentage to shoot for. Every person and subject is different. But I wish you all the best of luck. :luck:



Mark and Come Back

This is important for PS especially. If you are unsure on a question, mark it and make your best guess. If you can exclude an answer or two immediately, cross them out before moving on. Come back to it after you complete the whole section.

Use every second available to you.

Never fail to answer a question, even if you are guessing randomly. If you run out of time to review all your marked questions, you will at least have a chance you got it correct. Guessing is never ideal, but it's better then leaving a question blank.



Use Your Scratch Paper

You are given scratch paper for a reason—so you can USE IT! If you are one of those who can’t do math in your head, or needs to draw out lens diagrams to determine where the focal point will be, USE your scratch paper.

I also mentioned in the first post of this thread that you are allowed to write on your scratch paper during the opening minutes of the test. No problem. So if there are a couple equations you have trouble recalling during the high-stress environment of the test, you should scribble them down before the test actually starts.



Flashcards Flashcards Flashcards!

Question: Forget an equation? Forget what the First Law of Thermodynamics says? Forget how to calculate the overall capacitance of a series of parallel capaciators? :wtf:

Answer: Flashcards! :prof:



Use Your Notebook.

Let’s say you do poorly on a passage. Say, 2 or more wrong. You need to determine WHY. Was it because you misunderstood the questions? In that case, you should read the questions more carefully from now on. Was it because you misunderstood something within the passage? Perhaps you should slow down and read more carefully next time.

Or was it because you didn’t understand what the passage was talking about, or because you couldn’t fully grasp some concept? Well, in that case, it’s notebook time. Write the passage in your own words (keeping all important details) and include every question you got wrong, as well as any you were uncertain on. You can even add a question or two from secondary sources if it helps you understand the concept better.



=KNOW EVERYTHING=

This should be the mantra of the PS section. Know everything. And if you can’t know everything, you should try your best to know as much as possible.

Remember: You are not studying all these things because they WILL be on the test; you are studying them because they MIGHT be on the test.

There is no guarantee that you will have to answer a question concerning parabolic mirrors on the test, but you should try to understand them so you can grab some free points if it does appear. Meanwhile, all your test-mates will be scratching their noses, muttering to themselves “I didn’t know THAT was going to be on the test.”

Everyone knows that 1 question can mean 1 point on your scaled score. A 10 can become an 11 by getting one more question right.

But think of this: Especially after scaled scores get over 10, one score is the equivalent of 2-3 questions (and, sometimes, 1). See where I’m going with this? Let’s say you get 44 / 52 right. That is an 11 on most iterations of the test. One more correct can push that to 12. But let’s say you can increase that 44 to a 47. That could get you a 13.

A lot of people would be happy with an 11. But why would anyone want to stop there? Study the bits and pieces. Go for that elite 13.

:highfive:
 
Last edited:
About the Ads
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
The Spinach Method
-or-
How I Added 10 Points To My MCAT Score In 2 Months​

By: Spinach Dip
Posted on Student Doctor Network



4
=Verbal Reasoning=​



Remember:
—This article is copyright by ME, Spinach Dip, posted here on the Student Doctor Network for the benefit of all. You may NOT, in any circumstance, claim that you authored it in part or in whole, NOR may you post it in part or in whole on any other website whatsoever. PLEASE do not print it off to share with your friends, pre-med club, or anyone else. I would APPRECIATE it if you gave out direct links to this article so others could read it, in its entirety, for themselves.





Let me get something out of the way, just to make sure we’re all on the same page. Verbal sucks. It sucks more than a super-charged galaxy-class 9 megawatt industrial vacuum.

Why does VR suck so much? I believe it’s because there are no easy ways to study for it or increase your score. There’s no list of terms or equations you should know. No flashcards. No recurrent topics.

VR is the most conceptual of the 3 MCAT sections. That means it requires no previous knowledge. You don’t need to be prepared to find the focal point of parabolic mirrors or recite the steps of meiosis… But you DO need to be prepared for any topic whatsoever. You need to have a strategy and plenty of practice with it.

VR also has the most unforgiving scoring system. Only 5% of test-takers achieve a score of 12 or better on VR. This compares to 11.3% of test-takers who score a 12 or better on both PS and BS.



So what can you do? Surely, there must be a way to increase your score!

Well, if you had a year to prepare, I’d say you should read a novel every week until the test. But even that’s not fool-proof—just look at me! I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve read ~200 novels—and written 5 of my own—in the past 6 years. And you know what? Even I was struggling to score 11s on my AAMC practice tests… Now, you may say 11 is an excellent score, but my point is that years of reading and writing are not a guarantee of an amazing VR score.

Practicing for VR is actually more simple than most people assume. You merely want to repeat the exact same procedure every single time you read your passages and answer your questions. Of course, turning this into a higher score is not fool-proof, but it can at least be made easier.

Below are the techniques I used, grouped together in a way which makes sense to me:



=General Reading Advice=



Concentrate

Concentrate completely on the passage at hand. Allow no distractions at all. Do your verbal practice in a quiet, restful environment. (As a review, see #12 in the first post.) This is especially true for VR, as it is the section that I noticed the biggest differences in depending on my mental state. When I was more tired, distracted, or suffering from a mild case of burnout, all my scores went down—but VR went down the most.

If you’ve read this thread so far, you would know that I bombed AAMC #9 because I was distracted by a phone call. The result was that all my sub-scores went down, but VR went down a terrifying 4 points from my high (11), and 3 points from my average at that time (10).



Earplugs

Get some. If you buy my favorite disposable earplugs via ebay, you can get 50 pairs for around $10. And trust me, this is the best ten dollars you can spend in your entire test prep. (FYI, Howard Leight is the manufacturer, Max Lite is the model type. For average-sized ears.)

Earplugs are the simplest thing you can do to reduce distractions. Get some.



Whisper Passages to Yourself

Seriously.

Though I have read hundreds of novels, even I had trouble concentrating on some of those 500-word essays on the implicit meaning behind Picasso’s Guernica and how it relates to the political and economic tensions of the time. :eyebrow: So I took this technique from an old friend who moved his lips while he read everything. He said it helped him concentrate on what was actually being said. (I think he had a mild form of dyslexia, but never got around to asking.)

You don’t want to whisper so loud that anyone can hear you (that is, if you want to not be thrown out of the testing center.) If you can mouth the words to yourself without making a noise, that would be perfect. You won’t be able to hear yourself whisper anyway, as you’ll be wearing earplugs.

Long story short, As soon as I started this, my scores went up slightly. It’s not as if I gained 3 points overnight, but the increase in questions correct went up slightly. It was as if I understood the intricacies of the passages in more detail and could read slight changes in tone that the author made. It also helped me remember where within the passages certain points and arguments were made—which can help a ton with those painful “which argument did the author not make” questions.



Don’t Passage Map

I tried this technique… once. Took way too much time and I found it useless when it came to actually answering the questions. I understand it helps some people keep track of the passage, but that’s something you should be doing in your mind the whole time—and whisper the passage to yourself to help cement everything in your mind.

Passage making robs you of time—which generally leads to faster reading or less time spent on questions. Either one is bad for your overall performance.

Furthermore, I think passage mapping does something which you should never do during VR: it encourages you to put the authors statements in your own words. This is something you absolutely should not do unless required to answer one of the questions. Let’s say the author states that “most every sausage tastes good”; the majority of passage mappers would summarize this statement as “every sausage tastes good” or, more simply, “sausage=good”. This is straight up incorrect because it generalizes a relative statement into an absolute statement. This is bad because it allows extra places to make mistakes and get simple questions wrong.

In short, don’t ever summarize the words of the passage author, unless a question specifically asks you to summarize something.



Breathe

As soon as you are done with a passage and hit “next”, read the first sentence to figure out what this passage is about. Then close your eyes. Exhale. Inhale slowly through your nose. Hold it for a few seconds. Then exhale slowly through your nose. Open your eyes and start from the first sentence.

This is the best way I found to refresh the mind without wasting too much time.



=General Question Answering Advice=



Extract As Much Information As Possible From Question Stems

You can tell a lot from the way a question is worded. In fact, some have gone so far as to say the way a question is worded is more important than remembering the passage. Personally, I would not make that much of a jump in reasoning… but I understand why some would say so.

During my VR practice, I found several words/phrases which, in my opinion, are key in determining how you should approach a certain question:

If a question uses the phrase the passage implies, it is asking you to make a step in reasoning beyond what is stated directly in the passage. Take the authors statements and overall tone, and make your best approximation of what the author would say next.

If a question uses the phrase the passage states, it is looking for a direct excerpt from the passage, or something very close. The wording might be slightly different, but as long as the answer you pick is actually stated in the passage, it should be correct.

If a question uses the phrase in summary, it is asking you to summarize the authors overall argument. In this case, you should ignore individual statements and focus on the big picture (unless the author is nice enough to summarize their entire argument for you in a single sentence). Generally, you should try to pick the one answer which most closely summarizes the entire passage. (Or, if it asks you to summarize a certain argument or paragraph, do the exact same, but with a focus on the argument in question.)

If a question uses the phrase most opposite of the author’s idea or something similar, you need to be very careful about the answer you choose. This might take some backwards thinking--rewording each answer in your mind. Start by eliminating any answer which agrees with the overall statement of the passage. In general, this will leave you with two answers to choose from.

Lastly, if a question uses a phrase such as Bob and Joe, respectively, prefer what frosting on their donuts, two of the options will be backwards. Of the remaining two, one will be half right and the other will be completely right. Make sure you approach these ones carefully, as it can be easy to get turned around.



Use Process of Elimination

The MCAT allows you to cross off answers you have determined are incorrect. Use this tool whenever the answer is not at first obvious.

First, you can almost always eliminate 2 answers right away. This is because, in general, 2 answers are almost always the exact opposite of the answer you’re looking for, OR have no bearing on the question which was asked. Other times, an answer will technically be correct, but be the incorrect choice because of the difference between the key words implies and states.

Second, let’s assume you’ve got it down to two answers. Another rule you might employ is: the more extreme-sounding answer is always wrong. Or, put another way, the more general answer is always right. Avoid words like "always", "never" or "completely". Instead, pick the more general-sounding answer. The only exception is if the passage itself uses an extreme term, for example, it states that something will "never" happen.

Third, watch out for exact wording. This has been said many many times, but I feel I must repeat it here. If you find yourself in a situation where one of your answer choices matches a phrase in the passage (give or take one word), it is almost always the wrong choice. The MCAT writers have a way of switching one innocuous word, which changes the meaning of the sentence enough to make it incorrect. Or the question will ask what the passage implies, then give a direct quote from the passage. Obviously, a direct quote is not implied… it’s a direct quote!



The Most Important Rule

Anything which doesn’t answer the question is WRONG, no matter how correct it is.

Occasionally you will get a question which will ask, for example, which of the following was a major contributing factor to the Civil War? And the first choice will be:
A. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. :prof:

Now, that is absolutely true. Lincoln was the 16th president. But does that answer the question? No. :idea: Thus, while correct, the answer is also the wrong one. Do not select it.

The MCAT writers do this frequently. Out of the four possible answers, one will be absolutely, 100% true… but if it doesn’t answer the question, you can not pick it.



=General Section Advice=



Time yourself

Every single time you do VR practice, it should be 7 passages, 40 questions, in 60 minutes. Do not waver from this program at all.

Further, time yourself as you go through your passages. You should always have a timer available (if a computer test, it should be timed automatically). Also write these numbers on your scratch paper (or anywhere for that matter): 52-44-36-28-20-12. These are the numbers you will use to keep track of your progress. Every passage should take ~8 minutes. If you get this exactly right, you will have 12 minutes for the final passage… But don’t expect to spend exactly 8 minutes on every single passage.

I always timed myself and used this algorithm to determine how I should approach the next passage:
2+ minutes behind: Start reading faster.
1-2 minutes behind: Read a little faster. No rush.
1 minute behind to one minute ahead: Continue as scheduled.
1-2 minutes ahead: Read a little bit slower.
2+ minutes ahead: Going too fast. Take some deep breaths and calm down a little bit.

This also allows a 4-minute cushion in case you get stuck on an exceptionally hard passage.

When I did passages, they took anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes. Such a wide range does not look like a good thing, but you must realize that there are some passages that are far easier than others. They average out in the end.



Only AAMCs matter

This is a mantra I repeat frequently. The AAMC tests are written by the same people who write the MCAT! It follows that these practice tests are the closest thing possible to the actual MCAT. The closest passages. The closest questions. The closest reasoning.

Use these tests in full test-day practice. On my schedule (posted above), Fridays. Treat them like the actual MCAT. Concentrate. Focus. After, score them and accept that score as accurate.

Then begin your review. You are not going to write passages in your notebook or questions on flashcards. Instead, you are going to review every single question carefully, taking note of where your reasoning was correct and where it was not. If you notice a trend, feel free to write it on a flashcard as a reminder.

Feel free to go back and review previous AAMC passages (during review time) and read over their reasoning again.

Whatever happens, always remember that the MCAT authors are always right. Why? Because they wrote the test. They cannot err because they wrote the test. So, if you do not like their reasoning, do not argue with it. Rather, take a moment to sit back and realize that you were thinking about it wrong. The MCAT authors…. They were right.



All the rest is merely practice.

Every other source (TPR, TBR, GS, EK, Kaplan, Arco, etc) is verbal practice alone. Treat them like they are official while you are reading them and answering the questions. You can even grade them if you wish and keep track of your progress.

But stop there. Do not, I repeat: do not read the reasoning behind their answers. Why? Because they are not the AAMC. They are independent companies who wrote practice tests to sell, and thus can be wrong. Their reasoning may be completely contradictory to what the AAMC would say on the exact same question.

Use these tests and quizzes to work on your technique and timing. Use the actual AAMCs to work on your reasoning skills.


So how accurate are all these practice tests? I have a short story:

For verbal, I scored 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 11, 11, 11 on my AAMC tests (not in that order).
With Kaplan, I averaged a 6 on VR
With EK101, I usually got 8 or 9
With TBR (I think), I once scored a 4
On some random practice test, I scored a 13 (don't remember what company)

On the actual MCAT..... I scored an 11. The AAMC tests were right on.





Good luck with VR. I know it’s the most hated of the sections—but with some careful practice, you can bring your score up.

That’s all for this post.
 
Last edited:

leric90

5+ Year Member
Aug 28, 2010
167
3
Status
Pre-Medical
This place reserved for summary and FAQ
Thanks Spinach! Hopefully this will help me raise my scores - I'm taking it on April 26th, and I've already gone through the entire content review. Do you think I can significantly improve?
 

faith hopelove

God Fearing
5+ Year Member
Jun 14, 2012
99
6
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to help us behind you trying to make it! I dont want to seem like I am rushing you but when do you think you will have the other sections ready and posted?
Also since verbal seems to be a weakness for most ppl, can you do that section ASAP before the other sections?
 
Last edited:

NuttyEngDude

Red-Flagville
7+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2010
2,311
594
Status
Pre-Medical
Great work and a couple requests, can you elaborate on #18 maybe a rule of thumb, such as if you are 5 points off with 2 weeks left, that type of thing. Also, can you post a record of your upward trend from 30 to 40 over the 2 months and test scores on a per section basis? Just a request, great work! :thumbup:
 
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
Thanks Spinach! Hopefully this will help me raise my scores - I'm taking it on April 26th, and I've already gone through the entire content review. Do you think I can significantly improve?
You have almost 2 full months. Of course you can!


Thanks I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to help us behind you trying to make it! I dont want to seem like I am rushing you but when do you think you will have the other sections ready and posted?
Also since verbal seems to be a weakness for most ppl, can you do that section ASAP before the other sections?
I have the schedule pretty much done already. It just needs to be edited and formatted a bit. VR is the one I'll work on after that.


Great work and a couple requests, can you elaborate on #18 maybe a rule of thumb, such as if you are 5 points off with 2 weeks left, that type of thing. Also, can you post a record of your upward trend from 30 to 40 over the 2 months and test scores on a per section basis? Just a request, great work! :thumbup:
1. I have no rule of thumb, but gaining 5 points in 2 weeks is highly unlikely.

2. I am going to post the scores from each AAMC I took. I will also explain the flukes, which people may find interesting.
 

Fifty 3rds

tertium quid
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 20, 2009
209
2
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Thanks for taking the time to do this
 

faith hopelove

God Fearing
5+ Year Member
Jun 14, 2012
99
6
Status
Pre-Medical
You have almost 2 full months. Of course you can!




I have the schedule pretty much done already. It just needs to be edited and formatted a bit. VR is the one I'll work on after that.




1. I have no rule of thumb, but gaining 5 points in 2 weeks is highly unlikely.

2. I am going to post the scores from each AAMC I took. I will also explain the flukes, which people may find interesting.
Cool I will definitely be checking in waiting on that :) I feel super excited!
 
About the Ads

Wallace12

5+ Year Member
May 6, 2012
192
1
Oklahoma
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
This sounds like it will be very very very helpful! thank you for putting all this time into this!

One question: why did you do this at 4am??? Haha
 

leric90

5+ Year Member
Aug 28, 2010
167
3
Status
Pre-Medical
So I could get 6 posts up in a row.

:laugh:
Thanks for the posts again! Big help and I just got the Science Workbook

Couple questions!
1. When will you get the next post up?
2. Do you think getting 12/16 out of the questions are pretty bad or would it be redeemable with a brief content review.
 
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
Thanks for the posts again! Big help and I just got the Science Workbook

Couple questions!
1. When will you get the next post up?
2. Do you think getting 12/16 out of the questions are pretty bad or would it be redeemable with a brief content review.
1. The schedule will be up shortly (and it is MUCH shorter than the first post)..... The next one after that is VR, and I haven't started on that one yet. :(

2. I need to know a little more. was this all one subject? Several subjects?
 

leric90

5+ Year Member
Aug 28, 2010
167
3
Status
Pre-Medical
1. The schedule will be up shortly (and it is MUCH shorter than the first post)..... The next one after that is VR, and I haven't started on that one yet. :(

2. I need to know a little more. was this all one subject? Several subjects?
well what im doing is by subject questions and subject passages found on this page
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=966720

hopefully that clarifies a little bit
 

JLeBling

7+ Year Member
Oct 21, 2012
153
19
Status
Pre-Psychology
I'm glad I am not the only one who thinks some of the secondary source Verbal Explanations are rubbish.... AAMC always makes sense though.
 
About the Ads

faith hopelove

God Fearing
5+ Year Member
Jun 14, 2012
99
6
Status
Pre-Medical
I guess that schedule assumes we are in school and know all content, right? I have to read all the chapters for content review because I've been out of school for almost 2 years now. So I will pick up with the schedule when I finish all my reading....for the quizzes, how did you make them up? Do I go thru all TBR and TPR passages and piece together stuff? How can get I a little of everything? Idk feels like my brain just froze :confused:
 

Captain Sisko

U.S.S. Defiant
Sep 30, 2012
1,599
343
Status
Medical Student
first, congrats on your score. that's quite an accomplishment.

I've one issue with what you're saying though, and it has to do with your starting point. You took aamc 1r which according to tbr is an unrealistically difficult exam:

I will agree that the "R" exams can prove useful for a second time test-taker who has already used all the AAMC CBTs, because it will give them ten new passages per R-exam. But keep in mind that not all of those exams are real exams. For instance, AAMC Practice Exam 1 was written in 1990 as a sample of what the new MCAT was going to be. It was generally regarded as unrealistic and it gave a score that was lower than expected. People saw big jumps from AAMC 1 to their next practice exam without doing much studying.

I hope SN2ed weighs in on this, because more than anyone at SDN, he has kept in tune with the MCAT over the years.

You then compound the issue by using a scale that you adapted from current practice tests, which may or may not be the correct thing to do. I don't know, but I'd wager not many people do either. to say you saw an 11 point gain is questionable in my mind, because if you start from an artificially low level your gain is inflated, kind of like Kaplan and Princeton reviews classes where they give you an impossible diagnostic to ensure a guaranteed increase.

your plan clearly has merit, from the final score you saw. but I'd caution others to take the increase with a grain of salt.
 

Forkit

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 18, 2007
370
1
Status
first, congrats on your score. that's quite an accomplishment.

I've one issue with what you're saying though, and it has to do with your starting point. You took aamc 1r which according to tbr is an unrealistically difficult exam:




You then compound the issue by using a scale that you adapted from current practice tests, which may or may not be the correct thing to do. I don't know, but I'd wager not many people do either. to say you saw an 11 point gain is questionable in my mind, because if you start from an artificially low level your gain is inflated, kind of like Kaplan and Princeton reviews classes where they give you an impossible diagnostic to ensure a guaranteed increase.

your plan clearly has merit, from the final score you saw. but I'd caution others to take the increase with a grain of salt.
Quit hating. His method worked for him and he is going out of his way to help others out. What have you contributed to this thread? He has an MCAT score that I know you'd trade your left nut for and very extremely few people get. So quit nit-picking on irrelevant bs, if you think his method sucks you can always leave and not come back. While you're at it, you should get off your high horse, especially since you even HAVEN'T taken the MCAT yet lol.

I look forward to your very own strategy thread/post after you score 40+ in March like Spinach Dip did.
 
Last edited:

stick

Membership Revoked
Removed
Aug 29, 2011
21
0
Status
Quit hating. His method worked for him and he is going out of his way to help others out. What have you contributed to this thread? He has an MCAT score that I know you'd trade your left nut for and very extremely few people get. So quit nit-picking on irrelevant bs, if you think his method sucks you can always leave and not come back. While you're at it, you should get off your high horse, especially since you even HAVEN'T taken the MCAT yet lol.

I look forward to your very own strategy thread/post after you score 40+ in March like Spinach Dip did.
now i see why you want vr help
 

Entadus

Happy on 5-HT
10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
1,723
1,002
California
Status
Resident [Any Field]
now i see why you want vr help
Haha play nice :)

Seriously though, Capt Sisk couldn't have been more cordial or diplomatic about any of his criticism. I think "hating" is a buzzword; it has lost all meaning through overuse.
 

starfar

Nobody makes me bleed my own blood.. Nobody!!!!
Nov 26, 2011
149
12
Neskaupstaður, Iceland
Where's the rest of the info!? Totally LOVING this schedule and looking forward to getting started. :love:

Thanks so much for putting in the work and sharing this :thumbup:
 

kimicurtis

5+ Year Member
Jun 1, 2011
526
18
Status
Medical Student
Haha play nice :)

Seriously though, Capt Sisk couldn't have been more cordial or diplomatic about any of his criticism. I think "hating" is a buzzword; it has lost all meaning through overuse.
Agreed.He didn't come of as rude at all to me. In fact, I think he raised a valid point that requires a closer look.
 

osprey099

7+ Year Member
Jan 27, 2011
1,400
47
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Captain Sisko is awesome! :)
 
About the Ads
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
first, congrats on your score. that's quite an accomplishment.

I've one issue with what you're saying though, and it has to do with your starting point. You took aamc 1r which according to tbr is an unrealistically difficult exam:




You then compound the issue by using a scale that you adapted from current practice tests, which may or may not be the correct thing to do. I don't know, but I'd wager not many people do either. to say you saw an 11 point gain is questionable in my mind, because if you start from an artificially low level your gain is inflated, kind of like Kaplan and Princeton reviews classes where they give you an impossible diagnostic to ensure a guaranteed increase.

your plan clearly has merit, from the final score you saw. but I'd caution others to take the increase with a grain of salt.


First off, I said 10. Not 11. :p



Secondly, okay. I understand your point about AAMC #1 and how it may not be that indicative, etc. I also get your point about me applying my own scale to the exam. (The copy I had, didn't even have a score chart in the back, so I had to do something.) And besides, it is based off percentage correct, rounded to the nearest whole number.... so it's an estimate. A 'best guess' you could say.

But I disagree for one single fact: the 30 I got was immediately proceeded by a 32 on AAMC #3, and immediately followed by a 32 on AAMC #4. Differences of a couple points are within the normal variation of the test, so I never thought about it twice. Further, all sub-scores between these three are within one point of each other, so I would argue the 30 is valid.



Thirdly, even if you exclude AAMC #1 entirely, I still increased my score by 8 points in 9 weeks. Make of that what you will. :shrug:



The rest of you: play nicely!
 
  • Like
Reactions: DocAH

leric90

5+ Year Member
Aug 28, 2010
167
3
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey Spinach!

So how were you performing on the biology sections in the tprh workbook? and how did you review it if you weren't satisfied with your performance?

Thanks!
 
Jun 29, 2011
1,721
285
Status
Medical Student
I'm weary of these threads (as I am of the 30+ thread and SN2ed's schedule) because people tend to see your overall score and assume what worked for you will work for them... obviously not the case because everyone is different and needs different methods to succeed. I know you did write about that but should be said again.

That said, I think the main idea (i.e. trying to see as many practice problems as possible) is interesting but I disagree/think some preface is needed with a few of your points. Most specifically with content review. This schedule seems like it should only be used by students who recently finished their content review (through a dedicated study period or having just taken most of the classes). Jumping into quizzes or FLs without remembering what the endocrine system does seems like a poor idea. Four days of content review is just not enough for the average student/situation.

Also, I think it's pretty important that you share your other FL scores before posting a thread like this. I mean, you did amazing on the real thing but I'm hesitant about a title that claims such a drastic improvement as a sort of 'too-good-to-be-true" trap.. for all we know, you were scoring low 30s on your practice MCATs and hit the jackpot on test-day.. your opinion is certainly valuable either way but should be weighed appropriately. A 40 when hitting 36-42 on practice tests indicates to me someone who is in a better position to give advice about studying for the test than someone who hit a 40 while scoring 30-34. Obviously up to you but I think those other scores would lend both credibility and support to your method.. more so than a simple 40 does.

Regardless, while I don't really support the rationale behind the strategy itself (I think a more careful balance of practice passages, exams and content review is necessary), I do think your post was a great collection of general study tips that should be followed regardless of one's study schedule (or test being prepared for). Great job on the MCAT.
 

starfar

Nobody makes me bleed my own blood.. Nobody!!!!
Nov 26, 2011
149
12
Neskaupstaður, Iceland
I'm weary of these threads (as I am of the 30+ thread and SN2ed's schedule) because people tend to see your overall score and assume what worked for you will work for them... obviously not the case because everyone is different and needs different methods to succeed. I know you did write about that but should be said again.

That said, I think the main idea (i.e. trying to see as many practice problems as possible) is interesting but I disagree/think some preface is needed with a few of your points. Most specifically with content review. This schedule seems like it should only be used by students who recently finished their content review (through a dedicated study period or having just taken most of the classes). Jumping into quizzes or FLs without remembering what the endocrine system does seems like a poor idea. Four days of content review is just not enough for the average student/situation.

Also, I think it's pretty important that you share your other FL scores before posting a thread like this. I mean, you did amazing on the real thing but I'm hesitant about a title that claims such a drastic improvement as a sort of 'too-good-to-be-true" trap.. for all we know, you were scoring low 30s on your practice MCATs and hit the jackpot on test-day.. your opinion is certainly valuable either way but should be weighed appropriately. A 40 when hitting 36-42 on practice tests indicates to me someone who is in a better position to give advice about studying for the test than someone who hit a 40 while scoring 30-34. Obviously up to you but I think those other scores would lend both credibility and support to your method.. more so than a simple 40 does.

Regardless, while I don't really support the rationale behind the strategy itself (I think a more careful balance of practice passages, exams and content review is necessary), I do think your post was a great collection of general study tips that should be followed regardless of one's study schedule (or test being prepared for). Great job on the MCAT.
I'm also interested in hearing Spinach sound off on the content review aspect. I'm done with content review so for me, something like this is perfect. On the other hand, using this system before I did content review would've been a waste of material. I literally felt like I was learning just about everything from scratch!:scared:
 

NuttyEngDude

Red-Flagville
7+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2010
2,311
594
Status
Pre-Medical
I interpreted this plan to be a niche for people already done with content review, I could have been wrong :confused:

But I like to see scores because it's a good indicator of expected progress a person could use for themselves, no matter which plan they use.

Anyways, with all the caveats in effect, thanks for the effort of putting together the posts!
 
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
Yes, this schedule does assume that you have recently taken these classes and remember at least a little bit about them. Perhaps I should add that as a disclaimer.

It is my opinion, though, that most schedules/plans/etc include WAY TOO MUCH content review. For example, the most important thing to understanding capacitors is not reading a passage about them, but taking a test and being forced to answer questions you were not expecting. Anyone can read a chapter about capacitors, but how many can take a 5-question passage and get 5/5?

Perhaps I was not clear enough that you should be doing content review whenever you are making flashcards or writing in your notebook. Then, after you write your flashcard on Newtons you must review it! After writing that 5-question passage on the endocrine system, review it! Go over in your mind why the right answers are the right answers and why the wrong answers are the wrong answers.



for all we know, you were scoring low 30s on your practice MCATs and hit the jackpot on test-day.. your opinion is certainly valuable either way but should be weighed appropriately. A 40 when hitting 36-42 on practice tests indicates to me someone who is in a better position to give advice about studying for the test than someone who hit a 40 while scoring 30-34. Obviously up to you but I think those other scores would lend both credibility and support to your method.. more so than a simple 40 does.
Fine fine fine.

For you and all the other suspicious people out there:

3: 32
1: 30
4: 32
5: 34
7: 35
8: 36
9: ** See note 1
10: 37
11: 37-38 See note 2


Note 1: This is the test I bombed. I was way to distracted and should have paused it and come back the next day. Oh well, live and learn.

Note 2: I did not finish BS, as I was distracted by a family emergency. But I got (13,11,XX), and I was getting 13-14 on all my BS tests, so substituting that number in would give a 37 or 38 overall.

In all, my highest section scores on AAMC practice exams were:
PS: 13 (2x)
VR: 11 (3x)
BS: 14 (2x)

Which gives 38. On the actual test, I got (14,11,15). So +1 on PS and BS. Within the range of natural variation, but, yes, perhaps a little lucky. (Then again, some have argued that all scores above ~36 are based on a bit of luck.)

But point is: No. I was not absurdly lucky and got 15 on bio when I had been averaging 11s. In fact, I was steadily improving if you look at the numbers carefully.

I will do a more in-depth analysis of my own scores, but you will have to wait until I post it.



Regardless, while I don't really support the rationale behind the strategy itself (I think a more careful balance of practice passages, exams and content review is necessary), I do think your post was a great collection of general study tips that should be followed regardless of one's study schedule (or test being prepared for). Great job on the MCAT.
Thank you for being civil.

And yes, I am posting this out in the open for anyone to read. If you don't like my schedule.... Use a different one. You won't hurt my feelings!
 
Last edited:

NuttyEngDude

Red-Flagville
7+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2010
2,311
594
Status
Pre-Medical
Sorry to keep bugging you but can you post the test score breakdown by section (PS, VR, BS)?

I have the belief that the easiest gains on the test are in PS followed by BS, then by VR, your numbers could help me solidify or modify my beliefs :D
 
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
Sorry to keep bugging you but can you post the test score breakdown by section (PS, VR, BS)?

I have the belief that the easiest gains on the test are in PS followed by BS, then by VR, your numbers could help me solidify or modify my beliefs :D
I will post my exact breakdowns at a later date.

But I can say right now that they agree with your belief 100%.
 

leric90

5+ Year Member
Aug 28, 2010
167
3
Status
Pre-Medical
i'm doing bio right now and i'm scoring about 85-90% on the passages section and about 66% on the discretes but i do the discretes first and than review the section content before taking the passages

how did you review the ones that you got wrong? and this book is huge so can i ask how long it took for you to get through this - such as how much work were you doing in this book everyday?
 
Apr 9, 2011
63
0
Status
Hey Spinach,

Thanks for your tips, I'm going to modify my study schedule based on yours.

One question: How long did it take you to review your FLs? I've finished content review and am doing practice test but because I'm working full time, I find that I only have 4 hours to study on weekdays. On top of that, it takes me at least one study day (4-5 hours) to review a subsection (BS, PS) of my FLs. This means that I can only do at most 2 FLs on a good week. Do you think I'm spending too much time to do this?

How did you review your FLs? Did you completely redo the problems and do background workups on the concept behind each problem you got wrong?

Thanks!
 
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
i'm doing bio right now and i'm scoring about 85-90% on the passages section and about 66% on the discretes but i do the discretes first and than review the section content before taking the passages

how did you review the ones that you got wrong? and this book is huge so can i ask how long it took for you to get through this - such as how much work were you doing in this book everyday?
1. That review method sounds fine to me. It sounds like you are making improvements.

2. I reviewed those I get wrong by first looking at the answer (I know, many people say not to do that!), then trying to figure out where I went wrong. Did I mis-read the question? Do some math incorrectly? Get my terminology wrong? Or did I just have no idea what I was doing? Depending on how large my error was (and important I thought the concept was), it would either go on a new flashcard, get added to an old flashcard, or be added to my notebook. (Yes, there is some judgment required. Do your best.)

3. I didn't actually finish the book. :oops: (When I took days off, I got rid of quizzes and kept secondary tests.) I also switched between sections so I wouldn't get sick of any one section.


One question: How long did it take you to review your FLs? I've finished content review and am doing practice test but because I'm working full time, I find that I only have 4 hours to study on weekdays. On top of that, it takes me at least one study day (4-5 hours) to review a subsection (BS, PS) of my FLs. This means that I can only do at most 2 FLs on a good week. Do you think I'm spending too much time to do this?

How did you review your FLs? Did you completely redo the problems and do background workups on the concept behind each problem you got wrong?

It would take me a few hours to review the test and do all my flashcards/notebook entries. I'd say, time taking the test was approximately equal to time reviewing the test. Reviewing sometimes went longer, especially for AAMC tests.

If it takes you 5 hours to review a single section, I think you are either going very slow, reviewing too many answers, or getting a lot wrong.

Realize that you don't have to spend time reviewing a question if the error was a dumb one. (Such as reading a question too fast and missing the word 'not', or rounding some math incorrectly.)

Only do 'real' content review on the questions you got wrong because you did not understand the concepts behind the question.
 

NuttyEngDude

Red-Flagville
7+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2010
2,311
594
Status
Pre-Medical
Realize that you don't have to spend time reviewing a question if the error was a dumb one. (Such as reading a question too fast and missing the word 'not', or rounding some math incorrectly.)

Only do 'real' content review on the questions you got wrong because you did not understand the concepts behind the question.
Do you have suggestions for "dumb errors"? This is plaguing me at the moment to no end.
 
OP
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Delicious with nachos
5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
3,006
3,525
Earth
Status
Do you have suggestions for "dumb errors"? This is plaguing me at the moment to no end.
Switching the X and Y axes on a graph

Calling pH 8 more acidic than pH 6

Using KE=mv^2 when you know it's KE=1/2(mv^2)

Confusing "transcription" with "translation"



Pretty much anything where you look at the question post-test and say to yourself "what idiot would pick THAT answer? Oh. I did."

I have 2 important suggestions in these cases:

1. Slow down and read the questions more carefully.

2. Once you finish a PS or BS section on a test, go back and use all the remaining time to check your answers.
 

faith hopelove

God Fearing
5+ Year Member
Jun 14, 2012
99
6
Status
Pre-Medical
i need your vr strategy noowwwwwwwwwwwwwww =(
Yea I am wondering when you will be posting that....not that Im trying to rush you or anything :D
 
About the Ads